I previously worked for a company providing a service to a lot of marketing companies. A lot of these have an "art department."

So, when structuring, my boss emulated those marketing companies and called the department that takes the graphics from the company and modifies them slightly (if at all) and puts them on the layouts per the 'specs' (stuff customer puts in the e-mail cross referenced with the many and subjective functionalities of the printer and more often, the printers operator) the "art department."

In my position I don't feel like the title "Graphic Designer" or "Graphics Developer" are appropriate. However my boss insisted on calling me the "Art Department Director."

So how does one handle this hyper-inflated position nomenclature? How can I convince my boss to have a more realistic job title?

  • @DavidK that's similar but not quite the same. I am asking how to communicate with my boss about the title, not how to project the title on my LinkedIn/resume Aug 18 '15 at 15:02
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    Question would be more effective if you would skip the editorializing.
    – paparazzo
    Aug 18 '15 at 15:07
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    Hi, I edited this pretty significantly to clarify your question here and make it less similar to the other question (which is very related). Hopefully this helps!
    – enderland
    Aug 18 '15 at 15:29
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    In your question you should explain why you want a different job title? Is there an adverse impact from being titled differently than desired? Aug 18 '15 at 17:25
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    I don't see this as a duplicate. in the other, the job title is less senior than the job. In this one, it's the other way around. That makes a lot of difference. Aug 18 '15 at 22:34

You may be able to discuss having an "official" (contracted) job title, and an "internal" job title. The latter is for clients, the former for you.

For example I'm a "Project Manager" when working with clients, but that doesn't make me a Project Manager, it just makes me a Software Developer who is currently managing a project.

The point is that you get your boss to agree, that way he won't mind seeing it on LinkedIn. There's nothing to say that you have to give your client the same job title as is on your contract, as a job title and a day to day role are not necessarily the exact same thing. If it was, my job title would be several paragraphs long to incorporate everything I do in a typical week...

  • So basically my title would be like Junior Graphics Developer and my "internal title" would be Art Director? I know in the military the equivalent of this would be billet (which is a title you held internally different from your MOS, or main job). Interestingly, I can't find a civilian equivalent word for this phenomenon Aug 18 '15 at 15:31
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    In the civilian world we don't have a word for it, as far as I'm aware - because it's a fairly accepted practice to some extent. For example I'm a "Technical Consultant" when providing consultancy work, "Project Manager" when leading a project. "Technical support analyst" when helping a customer etc... none are untrue, they're just descriptions of what you're doing that day or the task you're fulfilling for that customer/client.
    – Jon Story
    Aug 18 '15 at 15:33
  • It is very common, that's why I'm so surprised there isn't a name for it. Aug 18 '15 at 15:35

If the company calls you an Art Department Director then I guess in their world that is what you are! As long as this is internally consistent within the organisation then not much harm can come of it.

The problem arises when you are seeking your next job move if your current job responsibilities are at odds in the "real world" with your job title. That's an easy one to solve in my view- On your resume don't quote your company job title, just quote your actual role, I.e what you actually do!

For example, if you think that what you are is a Junior Graphics Designer then on your resume call yourself a Junior Graphics Designer. If this causes conflicts within shared or online resources, such as LinkedIn, then that could clearly cause an issue if your employer questions why you call yourself something different to their given job Title. In that case you just have to have the (initially) awkward conversation with your boss on the job title he has given you! It might be that he is mistakenly thinking he is flattering you in order to keep you happy, whereas in fact it is having the opposite effect...

  • But here's the weird thing (and I'll edit the OP to accommodate this explanation). My boss had me on LinkedIn, so if they're calling me the Art Director and I have Jr Graphics Developer on my LinkedIn how does one handle that if asked. "I just want my future hiring managers to have a more realistic view on my job responsibilities here" seems like a bad answer lol Aug 18 '15 at 15:05
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    @JonStory I really like that you should put that into an answer Aug 18 '15 at 15:19
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    @MarvMills thank you, and thank you for your original answer it is very insightful and helped the question quite a bit Aug 18 '15 at 15:20
  • Added as an answer, I'll remove the comment :)
    – Jon Story
    Aug 18 '15 at 15:25
  • @Douglas I'll disagree with Marv that such a conversation should be difficult. You can simply use the same terminology, namely that you're describing your role rather than your title. If he follows up, just explain that you wanted to more closely describe your day-to-day activities. You don't need to bring up the whole "lofty titles" angle.
    – Lilienthal
    Aug 18 '15 at 15:32

I am stumped.

You are the first person who wants to have a lower title than they actually have.

If I were you, i would just run with the current title. In your resume, you can discuss your duties and all. Why do you want to be seen in a lower light on linked in anyway?

Leveraging a better title will help you in any future job endeavours - you can tweak what you've done to take on more managerial roles, for example.

However, you didn't ask anything about the benefits of having a better title - and yes, there really really are benefits to it. You asked how to take on a lower title.

In terms of your resume, this is easy. Just put the lower title. If someone asks for references, when you give this company as one, you might mention to them they had a different system for titles.

In terms of linkedin, this is trickier. If you are at all customer-facing, then keep your title as what the company puts it. You can, when job hunting, always change your linked in settings to "don't update my contacts" and then downgrade yourself, if you want to.

But finally, i think you're being a little silly. Part of being promoted is being able to argue that you're better than others - your company is giving you an opportunity to argue that you have managerial nous.

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    The OP is being humble, I don't see any reason to deride them for being humble. Prospective employers tend to appreciate humility and in general in most societies you will be found more likeable.
    – Cronax
    Aug 20 '15 at 8:39
  • Wow @ this answer. I'm not being silly I mean by standards I'm kind of a cocky person, and don't get me wrong I think I could handle being an art director and learn it on the job well. But I also believe in earning titles, if a title's just handed to me it takes away it's value. I want to work and move up in a company to be an art director, I don't want to be one just because that's what my boss feels like calling me. Aug 20 '15 at 11:49
  • Especially since I hear all the time, being a millennial that I'm a member of an "entitled generation" that "doesn't work" and "just wants hand outs". Not this guy... Aug 20 '15 at 11:51
  • @Douglas if you actually want to be taken seriously, then forget the title. Instead, stop using phrases like "being a millenial", "entitled genereation" and "hyper inflated position nomenclature". They dont read well, and subtly imply someone who doesnt take work culture seriously - as though you are trying to rise above it all. If you want to be an art director, you have to be committed to the job, not pretending to fake it.
    – bharal
    Aug 20 '15 at 23:24

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